Where is Thirdhand Smoke?

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a man swabs a square sample of a car dashboard to test for thirdhand smoke

Can you test for thirdhand smoke?

Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals that break down and interact with the environment. Scientists have developed sensitive tests1 using those chemical markers that can detect thirdhand smoke chemicals in the air, in house dust, on surfaces of indoor environments, and on people. However, these tests are expensive to conduct and few are available outside of university laboratories available at this time.

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What does it mean when we smell stale tobacco smoke?

Have you ever walked into a room and gotten a whiff of stale tobacco smoke? Or maybe smelled it as someone walked by? The smell of stale cigarette smoke–even when no one is smoking–is a sign of thirdhand smoke. As we breathe in, odor receptors in our noses recognize the chemicals in thirdhand smoke and trigger a signal in our brains that allows us to recognize stale tobacco smoke.

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